What Is the History of Zurich, Switzerland?


Quick Answer

Zurich's history began with its establishment as a free city in the 12th century, and its growth throughout the Reformation and its role in the development of the textile industry led to its current status as a leading city for scientific research and economic development. One of the most significant developments occurred in 1855 with the establishment of the city's Federal Institute of Technology, or ETH.

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Full Answer

The area that is now Zurich has been populated since prehistoric times, with evidence of early settlements stretching back as far as the fifth century BC. Late Celtic settlements have also been discovered in the area, but little is known about these inhabitants. The area was later occupied by the Romans, who established a customs point and military base. Throughout the middle ages, the area was held by a number of different groups, with churches and a convent established by Ludwig the German.

In the fifteenth century, the city was ruled by various guilds, resulting in decreased silk, wool and textile trades and transforming the city into an area of artisans and traders. The silk and textile trades increased with the arrival of immigrants and refugees. The expansion of industry in Zurich during the 19th century saw the establishment of the University of Zurich and a move toward democracy.

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